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Personal Independence Payment (PIP) - the disability conditions

This advice applies to Scotland

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a benefit for people aged 16 to 64 who have a long-term health condition or disability.

Whether you can get it depends on how your health condition or disability affects your ability to carry out certain key activities that are considered essential to daily living and getting around.

This page tells you more about the disability conditions you have to meet and about how your abilities will be measured in relation to the activities.

Top tips

It may help you to meet the disability conditions if you can use any medical evidence that you already have to support your claim. However, it's probably not worth getting new evidence when you're claiming, because this could slow down your claim and you may be charged for it.

More about getting medical evidence

Assessing your abilities for PIP

When you're assessed for PIP, a health professional will look at your ability to carry out a range of daily living activities and mobility activities. The health professional will consider whether your health condition or disability limits your ability to carry out the activities and how much help you need with them.

The health professional will write a report for the DWP. A DWP decision maker will then decide whether you're entitled to PIP, at what rate and for how long.

PIP is made up of two parts, the daily living component and the mobility component. Each component can be paid at one of two rates, either the standard rate or the enhanced rate.

If the DWP decision maker decides that your ability to carry out the daily living activities is limited, you will get the daily living component at the standard rate. If your ability is severely limited, you will get the enhanced rate daily living component.

If the decision maker decides that your ability to carry out the mobility activities is limited, you will get the mobility component at the standard rate. If your ability is severely limited, you will get the enhanced rate mobility component.

The daily living activities

To get the daily living component of PIP, you must have a physical or mental condition that limits your ability to carry out some or all of ten activities, known as the daily living activities. These are:

  • preparing food
  • eating and drinking
  • managing your treatments
  • washing and bathing
  • managing toilet needs or incontinence
  • dressing and undressing
  • communicating verbally
  • reading and understanding written information
  • mixing with others
  • making decisions about money.

The mobility activities

To get the mobility component of PIP, you must have a physical or mental condition that limits your ability to carry out some or all of two activities, known as the mobility activities. These are:

  • planning and following journeys
  • moving around.

The descriptors

Your ability to carry out each activity is measured against a list of standard statements describing what you can or can’t do. These are known as the descriptors. The health professional will advise the DWP which descriptor applies to you for each activity.

For example, there are six descriptors for ‘Dressing and undressing’, ranging from ‘Can dress and undress unaided’ to ‘Cannot dress or undress at all’.

Each descriptor carries a points score ranging from 0 to 12.

Can you carry out the activities reliably?

When the assessor decides which descriptor applies to you, they must consider whether you can carry out the activity reliably. This means:

  • safely in a way that is unlikely to cause harm either to you or anyone else, either during the activity or afterwards, and
  • to an acceptable standard, and
  • repeatedly as often as is reasonably required, and
  • in a reasonable time period. The activity should take you no more than twice as long as the maximum time someone without a disability would normally take.

If a particular descriptor doesn't describe your ability to carry out an activity reliably, the assessor should use a higher scoring descriptor to describe your condition.

Using aids or appliances

Your ability to carry out the daily living activities and the mobility activities will be assessed as if you were wearing or using any aids or appliances that it would be reasonable for you to use. This applies whether or not you normally use those aids or appliances. However, if you use or need aids and appliances, this can help you to score more points.

An aid is any item which improves, provides or replaces impaired physical or mental function. It doesn’t have to be specially designed as a disability aid. Examples include a stool you need to sit on when cooking, or a walking stick to help you stand.

If your condition fluctuates

If your condition fluctuates, so that you have good days and bad days, there are special rules to help decide which descriptor applies to you.

Scoring your abilities

When the DWP decision maker decides which descriptor applies to you, you'll get a point score for each activity. For example, if you can dress and undress unaided, you'll score 0 points for that activity. If you can’t dress or undress at all, you'll score 8 points.

Your points for each activity will be added together. If you score enough points, known as the entitlement threshold, either for daily living activities or mobility activities or both, you'll qualify for PIP.

You must score:

  • 8 points for daily living activities to get the standard rate of the daily living component, or 12 points to get the enhanced rate
  • 8 points for mobility activities to get the standard rate of the mobility component, or 12 points to get the enhanced rate.

For example, under the 'Moving around' activity, if you can stand and then move using an aid or appliance between 20 and 50 metres, you would score 10 points against descriptor D. This would not be enough on its own to get you the enhanced rate of the mobility component.

However, if you can't move up to 50 metres safely, repeatedly, in a reasonable time or to an acceptable standard, then one of the higher scoring 12-point descriptors would apply to you and you would qualify for the enhanced rate of the mobility component.

Example

Bob can walk with a walking stick up to 50 metres, but can't do this again the same day because it exhausts him and causes him pain. It's reasonable to expect someone to walk up to 50 metres more than once a day, but Bob can't do this repeatedly. He can walk up to 20 metres and repeat this in the same day. Therefore descriptor E would apply to him. In this case, he would score twelve points and be entitled to the enhanced rate of the mobility component.

Next steps

Other useful information

  • DWP PIP Fact sheet 'Assessment Criteria', at www.gov.uk
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